In the strange world of conservative media it's probably a good idea to always expect the unexpected.
For example, who would have ever thought that in the late spring of 2010, various right-wing media figures would attack civil rights accomplishments and leaders from the 1950s and 60s?
Sadly that's just what we've been seeing.
Last week radio host Rush Limbaugh used Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's praise for former Justice Thurgood Marshall whom she clerked for in 1988 to attack Marshall for his view that the original U.S. Constitution was "defective" because it sanctioned slavery and gender inequality. Furthermore, Limbaugh said Kagan and Marshall look at "me and people like me as the oppressors."
He wasn't alone.
The very same day, Michael Savage (née Weiner) -- the third highest rated radio host in America -- said "Marshall was an outright communist" who "almost destroyed America" while radio host Monica Crowley said on Fox Business that Kagan's praise of Marshall should raise "red flags."
Why folks like Limbaugh would be defending slavery is anyone's guess.
The attacks on Marshall were followed this week with broadsides against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Fox Business' John Stossel today called for a repeal of the public accommodations section of the Act in an interview on Fox News about Kentucky GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul's recent comments on the issue.
Stossel further claimed that eventually free markets would have prevailed over discrimination saying, "competition would have cleaned the clocks of the people who didn't serve most customers." It was a notion soundly rejected by Andrew Grant-Thomas, deputy director of the Ohio State's Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, who characterized Stossel's comments as "silly," adding, "Market forces hadn't exactly made anti-black discrimination disappear during the several centuries before the Civil Rights Act."
Such is the sad state of the conservative media.
When they aren't attacking such accomplishments and leaders, they are busy completely distorting civil rights history. Like Fox News' Glenn Beck who said today that "Civil rights marchers" weren't "crying for social justice." What's next? Neil Armstrong didn't walk on the moon?
So emboldened have they been by the lack of accountability they've faced from the traditional media over the past 15 months for their incendiary attacks on Obama and Democrats, they've now turned their guns on America's civil rights leaders and accomplishments.
It really is quite sick.
From the May 10 edition of Fox Business' Happy Hour:
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From the May 4 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Monica Crowley falsely suggested that a motion filed by former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich contradicted what she claimed were Obama's statements that "none of his representatives" were involved with efforts to fill the Senate seat Obama vacated. But Obama never made such a statement; he acknowledged contacts between his staff and Blagojevich's office while stating that his staff "had no involvement" in Blagojevich's alleged efforts to sell the Senate seat.
From Crowley's March 31 Washington Times column, titled, "Enemies of the state: Administration smears some opponents, arrests others":
Not surprisingly, then, once they had passed their widely unpopular health care bill, the Democrats moved quickly to delegitimize opposition to it. Their defiant move in the face of overwhelming popular resistance gave them another excuse to equate big-government progressives with good patriots and small government advocates with potentially violent nutcases who must be watched.
As if on cue, this week, Homeland Security, the FBI and the Department of Justice's Joint Terrorism Task Force carried out raids against a purported "Christian militia group" in the Midwest. According to reports, nine people have been charged with plotting to kill police officers with "weapons of mass destruction." The indictment describes the group as an "anti-government extremist organization" and the FBI special agent in charge, Andrew Arena, cast it as "radical and fringe." That may be, but the description has a conveniently familiar ring to it.
Interestingly, the head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Dawud Walid, rushed to announce the raids at a CAIR banquet at about the same time the story became public. "We salute the FBI for breaking up a militia that was seeking to harm American Muslims," he said. It's curious that he would know that at a time when the FBI still had the investigation under seal. (We're still waiting to hear why Homeland Security and the FBI chose to use the descriptive word "Christian" when they seem unable to use the word "Muslim" in connection with Islamic extremism.)
It's mind-blowingly coincidental that these raids on a supposedly "Christian" militia group would come at the exact moment that Democrats were trying to change public opinion on Obamacare by claiming persecution by their opponents. They have cast Tea Partiers, conservatives, independents, Christians and militia members as all cut from the same unstable, volatile cloth. How can anyone take their opposition to the Democrats' agenda seriously when they're toting guns and being raided by Homeland Security and the FBI? They're all nuts, don't you know?
The Democrats handle dissent by isolating it, smearing it and delegitimizing it in order to crush it. The warning should be clear: If you have small-government, traditional values, you may be considered by your own leadership to be an enemy of the state.
A Harris poll released on March 24 found that a majority of Republican respondents believe that President Obama "is a socialist," "wants to take away Americans' right to own guns," "is a Muslim," "wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one world government," and "has done many things that are unconstitutional." The findings follow a year of such smears and attacks on Obama by conservatives.
In the pages of this morning's Washington Times you will find an op-ed by Monica Crowley, the former Nixon aide turned McLaughlin Group participant, which neatly embodies the hysterical and immature right-wing reaction to the passage of the health care bill.
Crowley's complaint about the new law is that it undoes American exceptionalism and completely nullifies all those things that have made America great. She lays out her case thusly:
We have been the "shining city on a hill" that achieved superpower pre-eminence in a very short period of time because we were unique: The American people had a fierce passion for liberty, and our political system - based on limited government and individual freedom - was great because it was good. It allowed us to thrive, prosper and set ourselves apart from every run-of-the-mill nation.
What the Democrats did last weekend was not just pass a horrendously expensive, corrupt and destructive health care bill.
They took a big chunk out of our exceptionalism.
They are turning us rather quickly into France. Or Great Britain. Or any other Western European nation that was once great but no longer enjoys that status.
Where to begin...
Let's start with this bit of circular logic: "[O]ur political system ... was great because it was good." I'm not sure why this sentence needed to be written or how it got past the editors. No food critic could hope to get away with: "The crab bisque was delicious because it was tasty."
While we're on the topic of logic, let's move on to the implication of Crowley's argument that America was "exceptional" prior to the passage of the health care bill, but now is no longer. If one were to believe that, then one would have to assume, according to Crowley's logic, that unaffordable insurance premiums and the denial of health coverage to millions of Americans were essential to the "exceptional" character of the nation and contributed to the thriving prosperity that set us apart from "run-of-the-mill nations."
And then there's the unceremonious designation of France and Great Britain as "once great but no longer." She doesn't really explain why these countries -- which enjoy extraordinary levels of political, cultural, economic, and military power -- no longer qualify as "great," but the implication is that they've committed the sin of not being America. Crowley also seems to suggest that the new health care law is similar to the French and British health care systems, even though both those countries offer state-sponsored universal health coverage, something the recently passed law doesn't come close to doing.
What it comes down to is that Crowley's idea of American exceptionalism, in addition to being laughably childish, is also wildly cynical. The "great" America, in her view, is one in which her citizens endure high medical costs, bankruptcies, and crippling illnesses, all for the sake of not appearing "French."
Reacting to progress on health care reform legislation, conservative media figures have repeatedly referred to President Obama and Democratic officials as "health care suicide bombers" and characterized their efforts to pass a bill as "a kamizake mission" and "political suicide missions."
From the March 7 edition of the syndicated McLaughlin Group:
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Numerous Fox News personalities have accused the Department of Justice (DOJ) of sympathizing with terrorists, citing reports that nine DOJ attorneys had previously represented or advocated for terrorism suspects in their private practices. Monica Crowley and Steve Doocy accused the lawyers of being "terrorist sympathizers" and being "sympathetic" to terrorists, respectively, and Michelle Malkin asked whether the DOJ has "jihadis' best interests at heart."
In attacking President Obama's recent health care reform guidelines, right-wing media have leveled numerous criticisms that are at odds with their earlier attacks against Democratic health care reform legislation. This follows repeated efforts by conservative media figures to shift their criticism of health care reform by changing the definitions of "death panels" and the public option.
From the February 23 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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From the January 20 edition of Fox Business' Imus in the Morning:
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On The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley asserted that "[a]fter 9-11, President Bush and Vice President Cheney had a 100 percent perfect track record in keeping the homeland safe from an Islamic terrorist attack." In fact, while Crowley and other conservative media figures have recently downplayed the number of attacks on the United States under former President Bush, there were numerous post-9-11 terrorist attacks attempted and carried out during the Bush administration.
In a Washington Times op-ed, nationally syndicated radio host Monica Crowley advanced the false right-wing talking point that President Obama does not use the word "terror" when describing attacks on the United States; on the January 6 Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade echoed Crowley's attack, falsely claiming that the Obama administration "won't even acknowledge that we're in the war on terror or that a terror strike could occur." Crowley also falsely claimed that "we hear little to no true condemnation of these acts from the Muslim world," when, in fact, Muslim groups in the United States routinely condemn terrorism.